BOSTON -- In a letter delivered Friday, 154 environmental organizations called on retail giant Walmart to commit to installing solar panels on all its viable store roofs and parking lots by 2035.
“Walmart became the world’s largest retailer by making strategic and innovative investments,” said Wade Wilson, Go Solar associate with Environment America. “A commitment to go big on solar would be right in line with that track record. With its big roofs and big sustainability goals, Walmart could set a shining example to the rest of the retail sector by committing to generate solar energy on all of its U.S. locations.”
The letter, addressed to CEO Doug McMillon, identifies how big box stores can and should play a key role in reducing global warming pollution by transitioning to 100% renewable energy. It celebrates Walmart’s environmental accomplishments as a good start, but calls on the company to utilize its ample roofs and parking lots more fully to produce solar energy.
Along with the Environment America Research & Policy Center, groups that signed on to the letter include such national solar advocates as Solar United Neighbors, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Vote Solar, as well as a diverse array of groups representing public health, conservation and social justice interests. Organizations based in 41 states and the District of Columbia are represented on the letter.
Walmart is the largest retailer in the United States, and 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of one of its locations. Based on a 2016 report from Environment America Research & Policy Center, Walmart has the capacity to install rooftop solar that could yield approximately 5,844 megawatts (MW) in electricity. This is equivalent to the power consumed by 660,000 American households per year.
In 2014, the company set a goal of installing nearly 500 on-site solar projects at U.S. Walmart stores, Sam’s Club locations and distribution centers by 2020. Through 2019, the company was the nation’s second-largest business installer of on-site solar panels, just behind Target. A commitment to put solar panels on nearly all of its stores, distribution centers and accompanying parking lots by 2035 would position Walmart as a national corporate leader in transitioning to renewable energy.
“It’s encouraging to see such a broad coalition of groups calling for commonsense clean energy solutions,” Wilson said. “Installing solar on superstores like Walmart would be a win for the environment, a win for consumers, and a win for businesses.”